by Vincent Tilanus

Next Step 2023

The Netherlands

Feature Film

17-year-old Tommy, an openly gay teenager, is about to go on a 6-week-long road trip across the US with his family; a trip meant to celebrate his parents’ wedding. In the weeks leading up to the trip, Tommy discovers that his father Abel has been hiding past relationships with men. This revelation shatters the family unit, and Tommy must navigate through emotional chaos and hectic decisions that will reshape his family’s future. 

Director Vincent Tilanus, who has distinguished himself from the very beginning in the coming-of-age genre, is back with a story that entwines family secrets and queer emancipation. Not unlike Alison’s Bechdel’s cult graphic novel Fun Home, the film depicts Tommy’s intimate turmoil as he discovers conflicting feelings. Rage and failure to understand deceit, mixed with compassion for his father who has been living a lie from the beginning. Through this family drama the director also addresses the generational gap in the experience of coming out, and the sometimes murky paths romantic morality can take. Much like he did in his previous films, he demonstrates great talent for crafting witty, earnest stories. His deep affection for his characters is reflected in how sensitive he is in directing his actors.